Ron Reagan in 2008
|Born||Ronald Prescott Reagan
May 20, 1958
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Residence||Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
|Occupation||Radio show host, writer|
(m. 1980–2014; her death)
|Relatives||Patti Davis (sister)
Christine Reagan (half-sister)
Maureen Reagan (half-sister)
Michael Reagan (adoptive half-brother)
Ronald Prescott "Ron" Reagan Jr. (born May 20, 1958) is an American former radio host and political analyst for KIRO radio and later, Air America Radio, where he hosted his own daily three-hour show. He is a commentator and contributor to programming on the MSNBC cable news and commentary network. He is noted for his liberal views, in contrast to his father, former Republican president Ronald Reagan.
Reagan was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the only biological son of Ronald Reagan and his second wife, Nancy Davis Reagan. He moved to Sacramento while his father was governor of California from 1967 to 1975. His sister, Patti Davis, is five and a half years older. His half-brother Michael Reagan, adopted as an infant by Ronald Reagan and his first wife film actress Jane Wyman, is 13 years older. He also had two half-sisters born to Reagan and Wyman, Maureen Reagan (1941–2001) and Christine Reagan, who was born prematurely, on June 26, 1947, and died the same day.
Ron Reagan undertook a different philosophical and political path from his father at an early age. At 12, he told his parents that he would not be going to church anymore because he was an atheist.
Reagan attended and was expelled from The Webb School of California. He commented:
"They [the school administration] thought I was a bad influence on the other kids. As I recall, the immediate reason was I went to a dance at a neighboring girl's school in a classmate's car. This was an infraction. They had been looking for an excuse. I didn't get caught at anything."
Reagan dropped out of Yale University in 1976 after one semester to become a ballet dancer. He joined the Joffrey Ballet in pursuit of his lifelong dream and participated in the Joffrey II Dancers, a troupe for beginning dancers, where he was mentored by Sally Brayley. Time wrote in 1980: "It is widely known that Ron's parents have not managed to see a single ballet performance of their son, who is clearly very good, having been selected to the Joffrey second company, and is their son nonetheless. Ron talks of his parents with much affection. But these absences are strange and go back a ways." Reagan and Nancy went to see Ron perform at the Lisner Auditorium on Monday, May 18, 1981. The elder Reagan commented in his White House diary on this day that Ron's performance was reminiscent of Fred Astaire.
Reagan became more politically active after his father left the White House in 1989. In contrast to his father, the younger Reagan's views were unabashedly liberal. In a 2009 Vanity Fair interview, Ron said that he did not speak out politically during his father's term, because the press "never cared about my opinions as such, only as they related to him", adding that he did not want to create the impression that he and his father were on bad terms because of political differences. In 1991, Reagan hosted The Ron Reagan Show, a syndicated late-night talk show addressing political issues of the day. However, it was canceled after a brief run, unable to compete with the higher ratings of The Arsenio Hall Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and Nightline.
Reagan has worked in recent years as a magazine journalist, and has hosted talk shows on cable TV networks such as the Animal Planet network. In Britain, he is best known for having co-presented Record Breakers (based on The Guinness Book of Records) for the BBC. Reagan presented a report from the United States each week.
He has served on the board of the Creative Coalition, an organization founded in 1989 by a group that included Susan Sarandon and Christopher Reeve, to politically mobilize entertainers and artists, generally for First Amendment rights, and causes such as arts advocacy and public education. From February to December 2005, Reagan co-hosted the talk show Connected: Coast to Coast with Monica Crowley on MSNBC.
In 2011, he published My Father at 100: A Memoir. In interviews promoting the book, Reagan described noticing his father was having certain mental lapses which, in hindsight, caused the younger Reagan to later speculate that his father may have already been in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, while in office. This assertion was attacked by critics, including Michael Reagan. Ron Reagan subsequently clarified that he did not feel the lapses were "dementia."
In July 2004, Reagan spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his support for lifting Bush's restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, from which he expected a cure or new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, of which his father had recently died. "There are those who would stand in the way of this remarkable future, who would deny the federal funding so crucial to basic research. A few of these folks, needless to say, are just grinding a political axe and they should be ashamed of themselves," Ron Reagan said of the restrictions. "We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology." Reagan's mother Nancy also supported this position.
In September 2004, he told the Sunday Herald newspaper that the Bush administration had "cheated to get into the White House. It's not something Americans ever want to think about their government. My sense of these people is that they don't have any respect for the public at large. They have a revolutionary mindset. I think they feel that anything they can do to prevail — lie, cheat, whatever — is justified by their revolutionary aims" and that he feared Bush was "hijacking" his father's reputation.
Reagan later wrote the essay "The Case Against George W. Bush by Ron Reagan" for Esquire. He was quoted as saying that he voted for Democratic candidate John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. Reagan endorsed then-senator Barack Obama of Illinois for president in the 2008 presidential election. In November 2015, Reagan endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2016 Democratic Party primaries.
Reagan stated, in a 2004 New York Times interview, that he did not claim any religion, but that his sympathies were with Buddhism and his wife was a Buddhist. In a June 23, 2004, interview on CNN show Larry King Live, while discussing reasons why he would not run for political office, Ron Reagan stated "I'm an atheist. [...] I can't be elected to anything because polls all say that people won't elect an atheist."
In May 2014, Reagan appeared in an advertisement for broadcast on Comedy Central for the Freedom From Religion Foundation in which he declared himself "an unabashed atheist," and one who is not afraid of "burning in Hell. In 2017, he has appeared on CNN in a similar ad for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, again affirming that he is "an unabashed atheist".
- "20 Questions: Ron Reagan", by Betsy Rothstein, The Hill, September 24, 2008.
- "What Do You Call the Connection Between the Metropolitan Opera and Ron Reagan's Dance Troupe? Wedded Bliss : People.com". www.people.com. Retrieved 2016-05-08.
- White House Diary: May 18, 1981, reaganlibrary.com; accessed September 2, 2014.
- Ron Reagan at the Internet Movie Database
- Profile, screenonline.org.uk; accessed September 2, 2014.
- "Reagan Joins Air America as Permanent Weeknight Host". Radio Online. September 4, 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Ron Reagan (2011). My Father at 100. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-02259-5. OCLC 646111792.
- Colbert Report, January 18, 2011
- "Ron Reagan's Speech to the Democratic National Convention". New York Times. Jul 27, 2004. Retrieved Sep 13, 2015.
- Nancy Reagan plea on stem cells. BBC News. May 10, 2004.
- Johnston, Jenifer. Reagan Junior Warns Bush: 'Stop Hijacking My Father's Reputation'. Sunday Herald. September 26, 2004.
- Reagan, Ron (2004). "The Case Against George W. Bush". Esquire. Archived from the original on August 10, 2004. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
- Reagan, Ron. Making It Official: I Endorse Barack Obama. The Huffington Post. October 31, 2008.
- Ralph, Elizabeth F. (September 16, 2015). "GOP 2016: The Reagan Brothers on Donald Trump and the GOP". Politico Magazine. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
- "Ron Reagan, not afraid to burn in hell, promotes atheism in TV spot". 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- Solomon, Deborah (June 27, 2004). "The Son Also Rises". The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
- "Interview With Ron Reagan Jr.". Larry King Live (transcript). CNN.com. June 23, 2004. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- "Honorary FFRF Board Announced". Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "First 'atheist ad' on 'Daily Show,' 'Colbert Report' features Ron Reagan". Freedom From Religion Foundation. May 20, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2014.